Twisting History

We were recently in Munich for a workshop and were made aware of the Völkerkundemuseum. The museum celebrates 150 this year. The company is celebrating its 50th birthday with a new slogan: “Weltoffen seit 1862” (“Open to the world since 1862“). Given the close involvement of ethnologists with colonial conquest and exploitation as well as with race theory, such a slogan is more than cynical. While most ethnological museums refuse to return so-called collection items to their countries of origin, Munich’s Museum of Ethnology is celebrating its birthday with an exhibitionentitled “Network Exoticism“. The elementary connection between racism and exoticization is not only ignored. Through its cosmopolitan slogan, the Ethnological Museum actively rewrites history and denounces its own entanglement in violent history.

A week later in Göttingen, we stopped by the Institute of Zoology and Anthropology. Here the ethnological proximity to biologistic ideas is even anchored in the name.